Start It Up!

We’ve started up our Eberron game again after a bit of a sojourn down into the Tomb of Horrors and last night was the first session and my first time running this group of characters in a campaign that already has a fairly long history.

The interesting part of the first session lay in gathering all these people back together again from all parts of the world. Some of the older characters with many connections were no longer in the game – Rob’s Kendras was dead, my rogue Nina was retired to NPCdom and Herzy decided to swap his monk for a shifter-rat-ranger-rogue-action-hero-cigar-chewer. This left Atarra as the only character with connections to Cull – Andrew’s character – who had become an NPC during his run and no connections at all for Herzy’s Slade other than maybe with Gris’nak the Druid who might or might not have gone into the Tomb of Horrors with Slade.

But I had Attara! The same girl who had departed the material plane at the end of the last story, on a student-exchange program in the Plane of Fire to take her first level as an elemental savant…

Thankfully Andrew had hung plenty of meat on the story that led her into the Plane of Fire and I was able to get her back out fairly easily.

Then, I wound up stringing a few coincidences together in order to get the party started again (so to speak, with an actual party in honor of Volund the Priest and Atarra the Sorcerer!) and cooking up reasons for Slade and Cull to attend. That left me with room to introduce a mild conflict with plenty of down-time for socialization to let the new characters feel each other out a bit.

We missed Joe’s druid Gris’nak who might have made for the last connection between Slade and the party a little less jagged but it worked out alright. This part of the game is usually the hardest for me, I always try for an organic connection between the characters and last night it worked out – all the players were eager to jump in and take the initiative and interact each other which is half the battle.

What tools do you use to get a group started, either for the first time or to introduce new characters?

*sits at the bar waiting for the obvious player character types to show up*

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Your best gaming experiences.

You can’t have bad without the good. I am extremely happy to report that my great gaming experiences far outweigh any bad ones, especially within the last three years. I am privileged to play with some great creative, fun, and hysterically funny friends.

I can remember some really great games from my past. Our superheroic games involving “The League” had some memorable roleplaying moments as well as some great GM plots and stories. Our resident supersoldier “The Captain” used his belief in the United States of America and his red white and blue shield like faith and a crucifix to cause a vampirically infected teammate to turn and flee!

Some great GMing from many fronts too. Many times a great and creepy NPC villain has crossed my path. Emperor Veero the vermin controlling killer with rats for armror, Kilindrun the treacherous green dragon with visions of godhood, Vanthas Vanderboren the demonic traitor, and tons of others!

Some of the best GM’s I have played with have shown a great ability to adapt to the players ideas and actions even when it deviates wildly from the original adventure path. I myself have learned to not plan too far ahead when GMing. Many of the people I play with always have clever solutions and often think “outside the dungeon.”

Another way my gaming has gotten great is just being exposed to more people who play games I never have heard of before. I am lucky to be part of the nerdnyc.com community and through that forum I have met some great people and played some very different systems than I usually do. Burning Wheel, Dread, and With Great Power just to name a few.

What are your great and fun experiences? How has your gaming improved over the years?

Your worst gaming experiences.

So let’s talk about some of the times when gaming was not so good. Maybe you had a vindictive GM screw you over? Maybe you had a GM fall asleep on you?

For me I had a few negative experiences. The most recent was with the group I used to play with. We took turns GMing games and things usually went well. We started to play Conan D20 and were really psyched for that low magic, brutal, blood and gore setting. One of my friends who really loved this setting ran our first few games and it was great. It had all the elements of a good Conan story (from the books). It had corruption, an evil mage, intrigue, and bloody combat.  His game was so good I started to plan out my adventure. I was slated to run 3rd but I could not wait. I had evil nobles, intrigue, double crosses, and fun plot twists. It was going to be great! I was psyched.

Next up running was, let’s call him, “Pete.” He proceeded to turn Conan into a full on D&D dungeon crawl. Wild creatures and magic everywhere. We fought weird and crazy demons at every turn. I would look across the table at other players and we would tilt our heads, confused. Didn’t we just start this game and talk about the whole “low magic” aspect? There were monsters written up in the main rules but many of the more “fantastical” ones were very high level and exceedingly rare. “Pete” had us facing them at level 3 (in a lower powered state of course) and section after section of this underground cave was filled with fantastical creatures. This affected another player so much that he just said “I don’t want to play this anymore.” I tried to tell him I would get us back on track with my game but he wouldn’t have it. We finished out “Pete’s” game then stopped to play something else. It was a huge let down. In fact many of my negative experiences invove “Pete”. I remember during a D20 Modern game he ran he thought it would be good GMing to have the characters make 7 (seven) climb checks to get down a cliff wall because we all know how climb checks and climbing are the pinnacle of role-playing excitement! Sometimes I just ask my GM for one at random even if there is nothing to climb!

There were other times too, some of them involved being railroaded to the point of ridiculousness. Powers all of a sudden having no effect on a door the GM didn’t want us to go through, NPC’s who were all of a sudden immune to mental abilities, things like that (No “Pete was not the culprit in this one).

So what are your experiences? How did you learn from them?

Character Inspiration

Recently I was out with my friend and bloodthirsty GM Jay and we discussed gaming and characters over a pint. We spoke about the games we are currently playing, the fun we have, and the characters we play. It got me to thinking about my own trends in characters and what types I play the most. My character “resume” is varied. I have played The Noble Hero, The Irreverent Hero with a Heart of Gold (and a shotgun), The Kender, The Angry Whirling Blade Halfling, The Half Mad Warpriest, The Smooth Talking Assassin, The Smooth Talking Smuggler, The Emotional Vulcan, The Son of Thor, The Force Using Mystic, and a bunch of others i can’t recall at the moment. A varied past to be sure.

When I am creating a character for a game I often find pictures and even music to play that fits my concept both before and during my process for thinking up character ideas. I load songs onto my mp3 player and listen to them during my commute and just imagine different aspects.

Writing a descriptive but brief background/history also helps. It acts like a mini-intro to my character for the GM and the other players. It also is good that my buddy Andrew is an artist because I can describe my character to him and he will draw an awesome picture of it being cool in some way. I then incorporate it into my character sheet.

What inspires your character creation? What inspires your characters in general? What are your favorite types of characters to play?